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2019 the worst year on record for retail, KPMG study shows

Jan 10
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2019 the worst year on record for retail...

Management consultants working in the retail industry could have a key role to play in helping businesses get back on track this year, after research showed that 2019 was the worst year on record for the sector in the UK.

A report from KPMG and the British Retail Consortium (BRC) showed that the last three months of 2019 was indicative of the difficulties experienced across the year as a whole.

In-store sales of non-food items were down by 3.5% overall and 3.8% on a like-for-like basis during the three months to December. This is worse than the 12-month total average decline of 3.1%.

In December alone, total sales increased by 1.9%, compared to a flat 0% in the same month a year earlier, but KPMG pointed out that the figures were positively distorted by the late timing of the Black Friday sales.

Two-month figures provided to correct this effect showed a year-on-year sales drop of 0.9% in November and December - worse than the three-month and 12-month average falls of 0.4% and 0.1% respectively.

Similarly, online non-food sales rose by 2.6% in November and December, below the 12-month average of 3.3%.

Like-for-like food sales were flat during the three months to December, while total sales were up by only 0.7%, compared to the 12-month total average of 1.4%.

Helen Dickinson OBE, chief executive of the BRC, pointed out that, as well as being the worst year on record for the UK retail industry, 2019 was the first year to show an overall decline in sales.

She added: "Twice the UK faced the prospect of a no-deal Brexit, as well as political instability that concluded in a December general election - further weakening demand for the festive period.

"The industry continues to transform in response to changing technologies and shopping habits."

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